The Future China-Laos Railway Operation Staff have started receiving Chinese Language training at the Confucius Institute of the National University of Laos in the Lao Capital Vientiane.

An Inauguration Ceremony for the intensive Chinese Language learning class for the first group trainees for the Railway’s Operation was held at the Institute on Tuesday by the Laos-China Railway Co., Ltd. (LCRC), a Joint Venture based in Vientiane, in charge of the Railway’s Construction & Operation.

Jiang Shuming, an Official with the LCRC, introduced the recruitment and training process at the Ceremony, saying that since February 27 when the company launched the recruitment of the Lao trainees for the railway operation, the company has selected the first 248 trainees for the four-phase training, including Chinese language education, professional railway theory, on-site practical training in China’s Kunming and specific pre-job skill training.

After passing tests, the Lao trainees will become railway workers as train drivers, dispatchers, locomotive and basic equipment maintenance personnel.

The intensive Chinese language class will last for 10 weeks at the Confucius Institute. The follow-up selection of the second and third groups of the local trainees has started, and is expected to be completed in July. Altogether, 600 Lao trainees will be selected, said Jiang.

Saykham Phanthavong, Deputy Director General of the Vocational Education Department under the Ministry of Education and Sports, expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the LCRC for selecting and training Lao Railway talent, hoping that the trainees will become the backbone of the country’s railway technology.

Anongdeth Chanthalath, Deputy Cabinet Chief of Laos-China Cooperation Commission, said the operation and management of the China-Laos railway stage will become a new challenge, especially at its beginning period.

Laos lacks related experience and needs Chinese to train the staff, said Anongdeth, hoping the Lao youngsters to seize this opportunity learning railway expertise, so as to well manage and operate the first modernised railway in Laos.

Xiao Qianwen, General Manager of the LCRC, introduced that the construction of the China-Laos railway is progressing steadily, with 90 percent of the civil engineering completed, and station engineering is fully started.

The company’s focus will shift from construction to operation at the end of this year, said Xiao, adding that the China-Laos railway will become an ideal platform for Lao staff to work.

The China-Laos Railway is a strategic docking project between the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and Laos’ strategy to convert from a landlocked country to a land-linked hub.

The 422 km Railway, with 198 km tunnels and 62 km bridges, will run from Boten border gate in Northern Laos, bordering China to Vientiane with an Operating Speed of 160 km per hour.

The Electrified Passenger & Cargo Railway is built with the full application of Chinese management and technical standards, with its construction starting in December 2016 and scheduled to be completed and operational in December 2021.